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Aromatherapy debunked

Posted 04 September 2019

Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D. who directs McGill University’s Office for Science & Society, has summarized the chemistry and marketing of essential oil products used for aromatherapy.

Reference: Schwarcz J. The right chemistry: the science and pseudoscience of essential oils. Montreal Gazette, Aug 23, 2019

He notes:

Sales of essential oils are dominated by multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that snare potential participants with promises of wealth through a commission system. Unfortunately, this often drives individuals to make outlandish claims about using the oils to treat cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, mononucleosis or arthritis. There seems to be an oil for any condition that potential customers have. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has sent warning letters to the major MLM companies, resulting in more careful wording of claims, but there is no way to police what parties say in the privacy of a home, where Read the rest

We do not need nearly as much protein as we consume

Posted 03 January 2019

USN, Evox, Nutritech and others claim that sportsmen and those wishing to tone their body, or lose weight, require 100% whey or supplementation with additional protein. BBC News reviewed these claims.

Many of us consciously eat a high-protein diet, with protein-rich products readily available, but how much protein do we really need? And does it actually help us lose weight? 

23 May 2018

This story is featured in BBC Future’s “Best of 2018” collection. Discover more of our picks.  

In the early 20th Century, Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson spent a collective five years eating just meat. This meant that his diet consisted of around 80% fat and 20% protein. Twenty years later, he did the same as part of a year-long experiment at the New York City’s Bellevue Hospital in 1928.

Stefansson wanted to disprove those who argued that humans cannot … Read the rest

The GP Show podcast – Supplements

The GP Show podcast

16 December at 17:01 · 

This photo is from a patient who came to see me during the week. They walked in and said “I am here for antidepressants”. I asked why. They said one month ago they saw a natural therapy practitioner. The natural therapy practitioner did a skim history, but ordered a raft of private lab gut and heavy metal testing and put them on all these supplements. The cost? $2000. Eventually thousands more $ over a month. The patient used their savings. The supplements caused a wide range of side effects. And ironically little attention was paid to their diet, weight, social support, movement or anything else lifestyle related. They now had quite severe reactive depression as a result, along with who-knows-what other supplement side effects that were interacting, and had lost much of their savings. The patient had a printed out book … Read the rest

EMA rules omega-3 medicines ‘not effective’ – no longer authorised for heart attack

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said omega-3 fatty acid medicines are not effective in preventing further heart and blood vessels problems after heart attack – meaning medicines containing DHA and EPA for this purpose will no longer be authorised for use

Continue reading

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Towards more effective supplement regulation in Canada

Posted 26 September 2016

Currently, natural health products are regulated in a manner similar to drugs – manufacturers must apply to Health Canada for a licence to sell and products are assigned a unique number that must appear on product labels to signal the department’s approval. But unlike drugs makers, natural health product manufacturers are not required to provide robust evidence that a product works before it’s allowed on the market.

Under the proposed new system Health Canada would bring natural health products, over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics under one set of rules and regulate them based on the potential health risks they pose.

The new regime would classify many vitamin, mineral and homeopathic products and cosmetics as “low risk,” meaning they would not be licensed by Health Canada. Manufacturers would still have to meet Health Canada’s quality standards, but they would be prohibited from making disease treatment or prevention claims Read the rest

Rising Life tablets suspected in elevated lead cases, 2 deaths

Posted 30 August 2016

From Food Safety News

Local, state and federal officials are investigating Ton Shen Health in relation to elevated lead levels in children and two deaths that occurred after people took a Life Rising brand dietary supplement.

The Chicago-based Ton Shen Health company recalled one lot of Rising Life brand “DHZC-2” tablets on Aug. 11 after testing by the Food and Drug Administration showed the tablets have 56 times the amount of lead that would pose a health risk for children. That recall has been expanded.

“During an FDA assessment of the effectiveness of the recall, the agency learned of additional adverse events linked to the consumption of the product,” according to a consumer warning posted Monday by the FDA.

“On Aug. 25, following a call with the FDA, Ton Shen Health/Life Rising expanded their recall to include all lots of DHZC-2 tablets.”

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Study pans long-term antibiotic therapy for “chronic Lyme disease”

Posted 11 April 2016

Another study has confirmed the futility of long-term antibiotic therapy for people with symptoms attributed to “chronic Lyme disease.” This study involved 252 patients who received 2 weeks of standard antibiotic treatment followed by 12 weeks in which they received either doxycycline, another antibiotic, or a placebo. The three groups demonstrated no significant differences in outcome. [1]

An accompanying editorial concluded: “Patients with subjective, vexing symptoms attributed to Lyme disease should not anticipate that even longer courses of antibiotics will produce relief, a finding that is in concert with results from previous trials.” [2]


  1. Berende A and others. Randomized trial of longer-term therapy for symptoms attributed to Lyme disease. New England Journal of Medicine 2016;374:1277-1288.
  2. Melia TM, Auwaerter PG. Time for a different approach to Lyme disease and long-term symptoms. New England Journal of Medicine 2016;374:1277-1288.

[Source: Consumer Health Digest #16-13, April 10,  … Read the rest

Moringa claims – ASA ruling

Posted 15 October 2015

Moringa is a food supplement making a number of claims:

“Moringa is used for ‘tired blood’ (anemia) [sic]; arthritis and other joint pain (rheumatism); asthma; cancer; constipation; diabetes; diarrhea [sic]; epilepsy; stomach pain; stomach and intestinal ulcers; intestinal spasms; headache; heart problems; high blood pressure; kidney stones; fluid retention; thyroid disorders; and bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections as well as muscle recovery”.

“Moringa is also used to reduce swelling, increase sex drive (as an aphrodisiac), boost the immune system, increase breast milk production and reduce inflammation. Some people use it as a nutritional supplement or tonic that assists with mental alertness and improves attention deficit”.

A consumer laid a complaint with the ASA arguing that there is no proof that these claims are valid. The ASA requested that the company supply proof, received a large pile of documents, but according to the ASA assessment, the … Read the rest

Nutritech Anabolic Mass Builder vs USN – ASA complaint

Posted 04 May 2015

This is an interesting ruling for, in 2013, we pointed out in a complaint to the ASA that USN was lying about the amount of protein in their product. Now USN has laid a complaint with the ASA against a competitor’s product, making the same argument. However the ASA examined the test report of the competitor and ruled against USN’s complaint.

Read the rest

Rychol – ASA ruling

Posted 17 April 2013

Rychol claims to reduce cholesterol. Pharmachoice laid a complaint against this claim with the ASA. The ASA ruled against the claims. Rychol appealed and asked a retired professor, Professor Van Gelder, to substantiate the claims for the product. Reading his report, he appears to NOT unequivocally support the claims, but then says that he evaluated the data that the company itself supplied, and therefore that the claims for Rychol are true. It is unfathomable that any scientist would accept unpublished, non-peer-reviewed data at face value of a company selling a product, and claiming that the data will suffice!

We have evaluated the evidence on studies for the individual ingredients, some combined with other ingredients used in Rychol, and simply they do not add up. For example, Rychol uses berberine at 60-120 mg per day (Cholesterol levels above 5 : take 2 tablets per day; Read the rest